Postpartum Depression isn’t just a white Mother’s Illness.
Be strong, be quiet! Often are the mantras of black mothers. It seems to be some sort of unspoken truth that postpartum depression lains within our community. We have been lead estray to believe this mental illness is a white mother’s issue. The truth is, a common theme among mothers with
PPD, especially urban, low income African American mothers is isolation and a lack of social support. Additional risk factors include experiencing stressful life events during pregnancy: including a difficult pregnancy or delivery, marital problems, a history of mood disorders, and feelings of anxiety during pregnancy.
We are told to be strong, we can handle it all. We are also told to suck it up, let the lord handle it, and made to believe that talking about our feelings is selfish. Black mothers are some of the strongest people I know. I’d like to think that we are the original super heroes. Yet with all the powers and strength we exhibit, somewhere deep down lies how we truly feel. We are completely exhausted, we are depressed, and mentally drained. Instead of telling others how we feel we lock our feelings deep down somewhere that can’t be accessed. And instead of dealing with it, we let our feelings deal with us, especially after delivering babies.
It is said that most mothers experience baby blues within the first two weeks after giving birth. During that time you can experience weeping for no clear reason (crying spells), irritability, exhaustion, impatience, restlessness, sadness, etc. Sounds like a short description of motherhood right? Baby blues is real and mothers sometimes feel ashamed that they are not extremely excited about the birth of the new baby. This is normal. Some mothers are ashamed to admit that after giving birth they don’t have the excitement they’d been longing for.
It’s not that we hate our babies but we go through so much during the pregnancy/ birthing process that we are unable to sometimes fully process the joy as fast. Our bodies experience so many hormonal changes and sometimes it causes depression. Baby blues is said to last up to 14 days. If you experience the symptoms longer than that then this can be an indication of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is common. It is not a sign of weakness. Most moms feel ashamed to admit that they are depressed because they don’t want to seem weak or unloving. This is absolutely not the case.
Often times we mothers feel like we have to be the strong for everyone and if we show signs of weakness we won’t be respected. Experiencing depression definitely doesn’t make you weak, we must be real with ourselves and admit there is something wrong. In some cases mothers even think of hurting themselves or their baby because of being depressed. The first step is admitting and we have to start to admit when somethings wrong. Once we know there is a problem steps can be taken to fix it, but if we stay silent we end up hurting ourselves and/or baby physically and mentally.
Don’t ever feel like you have to hide your depression. Embrace the fact that you are like about 15%
of other moms out here. Allow others in. If people offer help, TAKE IT. We often feel like nobody can care for our babies like we do. While this is true, we need breaks. So let that person that’s offering help, HELP. Unpact your feelings. I don’t care how bad they sound coming out. Release them, either by writing or out loud to someone you trust. If you feel like your alone find a community. There are plenty on Facebook. Talking with people that can relate helps so much. Therapy works also. Speaking your feelings helps you to release. Don’t ever feel like you’re weak because you are battling a illness that affects your mental state. Mom you are strong, but we all need help at some point. You don’t have to do it all and don’t try to. Postpartum depression is real and it is affecting so many moms. Let’s start to identify this for what it is and work towards a healthy future with our babies.
Writtem by: Lynyadia Prosper
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